I recently listened to a podcast from Catholic Answers where Peter Kreeft was a guest. For those who don’t know, Peter Kreeft is a Catholic convert from Calvinism and one of the greatest Philosophers of our day. Both Catholics and Protestants read his works and make good use of them. He is also heavily involved in the pro-life movement and has written books like The Unaborted Socrates. In other words, we have a lot to thank him for. The podcast from Kreeft can be found here:
Basically what happened in this podcast was Kreeft largely downplayed the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. He mentioned that our difference in justification was essentially a misunderstanding. This was extremely troubling. I wonder if Luther, Calvin, or the Catholic Bishops at the Council of Trent would have said the same thing? These men weren’t stupid and neither is Peter Kreeft, so why is Kreeft saying something like this?
The Answer is the spirit of our age. It’s not popular to point out differences. It’s easier to say something like: “Oh, we believe in essentially the same thing, just in different words and our ancestors in the faith didn’t understand it because they were so close minded.”
Another prime example of this is the Catholic dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Church regarding Christology. Basically prelates from both Churches who have been infected by modernism say that we essentially believe the same thing in regards to Christology. The only difference between Chalcedonianism and Monophysitism is the wording. If Pope Leo the Great and Flavian of Constantinople were alive today do you think they would agree with this? Absolutely not. Neither would their opponent Dioscorus.
Sadly, most of us have this erroneous Western idea that religious differences lead to violence. That is not true. Very few wars have ever been fought because of religion. We can have civil dialogue without violence or without airbrushing the differences.
This blog and my personal life are testaments to that. Many people who sharply disagree with me have commented on this blog. Three examples are Ken Temple, Sam Shamoun, and Paul Williams. They are all non-Catholics who sharply disagree with Catholicism but have had peaceful dialogue with me on this blog. In fact, if I were in any of their hometowns I would call them up and try to have a meal with them. This can all be done without ignoring differences in our faith.
I’m a huge fan of Scholasticism. The Scholastic period was the Golden Age of Christian Philosophy and theology. This is because people like St. Thomas Aquinas and others took what we knew about Scripture, Tradition, philosophy, and the natural sciences, and tried to discover truths about the world. It was all based on truth, and anyone who has ever read St. Thomas knows that he cared about the very fine details of Truth.
This is true for Protestantism as well. If one reads Institutes of the Christian Religion or any of the major treatises of Luther written in 1520, they will see that they both cared about truth as well.
I have friends who come from different faith backgrounds than me. In fact, a Protestant friend of mine agreed that we would have a discussion about Baptismal Regeneration the next time I’m in his city. I have several Eastern Orthodox friends who I often have dialogues with over coffee. I recently had a good discussion with a former Catholic turned atheist. In all of the debates and discussions that I have, I don’t ever try to pretend our differences are just wording or not important in any way. That is the best way to honor your tradition and respect theirs.
It was really disappointing to see someone like Kreeft collapse on this issue. Pope Pius X was correct when he said that modernism was the synthesis of all heresies. Even ultraconservative Calvinist James White fell victim to modernism when he engaged in a fruitless interfaith dialogue with a Muslim cleric in a Protestant Church. Modernism is a war on truth and it’s very scary. People all over the world are talking and acting like truth doesn’t matter. If you truly believe that Truth doesn’t matter, how do you deal with the words of our Lord in John 14:6:
Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.